05 December 2009

Another ice spike

The season for ice spikes is here again. Yesterday morning one appeared in a plastic food tray which was nearly full of water and floating in one of the large trays of water we put out for the ducks. The spike was about an inch (25mm) high. This is what it looked like at 9am.

It was filled to the brim with water, and you can see that the water is bulging with surface tension slightly above the top of the spike. This is because the water in the tray freezes until only one point is left and, as water expands as it freezes, it gets pushed out of the hole and builds up a wall around it. As ice tends to freeze in a triangular pattern, these ice spikes tend to be triangular in cross-section.

Some time during the following hour, the water must have thawed enough to break the ice seal in the box. This caused the water level in the spike to drop. The following two pictures were taken at 10:30am.

I lifted the box out of the tray and held it up so the ice spike was against the sky. You can see that the top of each wall is curved upwards.

You can see several other entries about ice spikes in this blog, and we also have a section about ice spikes in our website.

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